Mount Pleasant, S.C. – North Carolina returned to its winning ways on Friday night, cruising to an 8-0 victory over Chattanooga then gritting out a 3-2 win over the host College of Charleston in the first day of the Holy City Showdown. UNC improved to 18-5 on the season, while Chattanooga slipped to 7-14 and Charleston fell to 8-9.
Kendra Lynch and Leah Murray both had two hits in each game, as Lynch hit a double and two home runs with five RBIs. Additionally, Katelyn Shifflett went 3-for-6 on the day with a walk and two doubles.
Four pitchers saw action on Friday night, as Brittany Pickett went 1-0 with a save over six shutout innings while Lynch earned the win in game two. With her save over Charleston in the nightcap, Pickett became just the third Tar Heel in program history to record four saves in a season, tying Lisa Norris (2009) and Crystal Cox (2005) for the single-season record.
North Carolina out-hit Chattanooga, 11-5, in the weekend opener, with two-hit performances by Leah Murray, Taylor Wike, Kendra Lynch and Katelyn Shifflett. Lynch led Carolina at the plate with a pair of home runs for four RBIs, while Shifflett doubled twice and Wike drove one in and scored twice with two stolen bases.
After walking in her final three at-bats on Wednesday, Berlynne Delamora drew three straight walks to start the game for a streak of six straight before grounding out in the top of the seventh. That ties for the 14th-longest streak in NCAA history, and follows her seven-walk streak from Feb. 18. The Tar Heel finished the day with 28 walks through the first 23 games of the season and is on pace to shatter the program record of 43 set last season by Kristen Brown ’16.
Brittany Pickett (8-0) threw the first five shutout innings for Carolina, allowing five hits and a walk with four strikeouts. Hannah Nommensen and Kellyn Daly came in for the sixth and seventh, respectively, each tossing a perfect inning.
Alex Connell (1-4) started for Chattanooga but left with two outs in the fifth after issuing five runs on six hits and three walks. Maddy Adams took over for the next 1.2, but gave up three runs on four hits and a walk. After Adams struggled with control in the seventh, Hanna Dennis came in for her first career appearance but struggled as well, retiring just one batter while giving up a hit and two walks. Connell returned with the bases loaded and two outs and got final out of the game with a single pitch.
The Tar Heels got on the board in the top of the third, as Hailey Cole singled and stole second and Wike drove her home on a sacrifice fly.
Hayleigh Weissenbach slapped a triple to right field with one out in the third, but Pickett drew a pair of ground outs to keep the Mocs from tying the score.
Katie Bailiff doubled the Tar Heels’ lead in the top of the fourth, launching a solo home run to left field to make it 2-0 UNC.
Wike started a two-out rally in the top of the fifth with a single to the gap in left center. Delamora followed with her third walk of the game, and Lynch crushed a three-run homer to center field to make it 5-0 Carolina.
A double down the left field line by Shifflett got things going for UNC in the sixth. Hailey Jensen pinch hit and moved a pair of runners into scoring position with two outs, and Murray dropped down her second bunt single of the day for an RBI, scoring Micaela Abbatine. Murray tried to take second, drawing the throw, at which point Campbell Hutcherson attempted to score but was thrown out at the plate to end the inning.
The Tar Heels tacked on two more in the top of the seventh. Wike led off with a single through the left side. She stole second and third then came home on a wild pitch. Lynch drilled her second dinger of the day to make it 8-0 and lead to a pitching change. Hanna Dennis made her first career appearance but she also struggled with control, issuing two walks and a bunt single to load the bases with two outs. Cannell then reentered and got the final out with a single pitch to end the frame.
Kellyn Daly came in to pitch the bottom of the seventh and retired three straight to seal up the combined shutout, 8-0.
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The nightcap with the College of Charleston went down to the wire, entering the seventh inning in a 2-2 tie. UNC took the lead in the top of the seventh off an RBI single by Berlynne Delamora, but the Cougars fought back to get runners in scoring position with one out. Nevertheless, Brittany Pickett held them off, stranding the bases loaded to preserve the 3-2 victory for the Tar Heels.
Kendra Lynch once again led UNC at the plate, going 2-for-3 with a walk and an RBI double, while Leah Murray went 2-for-4 and scored the game-winning run. Berlynne Delamora drew her fourth walk of the day and drove in the go-ahead run with an RBI single, and Katelynn Shifflett had the remaining Tar Heel single to go with a walk. Taylor Wike did not have a hit, but walked twice, stole two bases, and put the winning run in scoring position with a sacrifice bunt.
Lynch (6-2) threw six quality innings for Carolina, allowing two runs on five hits and a walk with four strikeouts. Pickett came in for the seventh and allowed a hit and a walk with a strikeout to tie the UNC single-season record with her fourth save of the year.
Izzy Berouty (2-2) went the first 6.1 innings for Charleston, allowing all three runs on six hits and three walks with three strikeouts. Brittany Violette entered with two runners on base in the top of the seventh and retired both batters she faced.
Dana Horgan was the heart of Charleston’s offense, going 2-for-2 with two triples, a run, an RBI and a sacrifice bunt.
UNC scored one in the top of the first, as Wike walked and stole second, then Lynch collected her fifth RBI of the day with a double to deep left center.
The Cougars took the lead in the bottom of the second, as Dana Horgan hit an RBI triple to deep center field then scored on an infield single by Kelly Sinclair.
Charleston did not lead for long, as Delamora led off the top of the third with a walk and Lynch followed with a single to left center. As pinch runner Abbatine slid into the third, the ball hit her and skipped away into foul territory, allowing the freshman to tie the score at two.
Both teams got a runner on third in the fifth inning, but neither was able to score, as the game remained in a 2-2 tie.
Murray led off the top of the seventh with a single just above the pitcher’s outstretched glove. Wike bunted her into scoring position, and a wild pitch put the go-ahead run 60 feet away from home. Delamora then came through with the RBI single up the middle to send Murray home and give UNC back the lead, 3-2.
Pickett came in to close out the game for Lynch in the bottom of the seventh. Katie Padilla led off with a hard-hit single that took a crazy hop off Shifflett at second. Sara Garcia hit the next ball to Wike for a potential double play, but the Tar Heel shortstop could not make the play as both runners arrived safely. Horgan laid down a sacrifice bunt to put the go-ahead run on second with just one out. Sinclair, who had given the Cougars the lead in the bottom of the second, could not repeat, popping up the first pitch she saw for a huge second out. Taylor DuPree worked a walk to load the bases, but Pickett struck out Yari Felix to strand the bases loaded and earn her fourth save of the season.
The Tar Heels return to action on Saturday, March 11, for two more games at the Holy City Showdown. UNC will open at 11 a.m. against UMass Lowell followed by Northern Kentucky at 1:30 p.m.